Mad Men: Master Storytelling In Any Era

“Everyone has a story to tell. It only goes in one direction: forward.”                                                                         -Don Draper

And Mad Men, the popular drama about the advertising world (and life) in the 1960s from AMC, has told its story well. In its own way, with some detours of course. But isn’t that life?

Sorry, CCC will be out of the office on Sunday evening -- watching Mad Men!

As an advertising major (and disciple), I love this show because of its attention to detail. Everything — the ads they create, the most minor set props (Tab, anyone?) and the lifestyles depicted are true to the time period the show is set in. (Just ask real-life Mad Woman Jane Maas.)

Even AMC’s social media marketing is on point. Take the above out of office that you can create on the Mad Men Facebook page. Pick your favorite character, decide what you’ll be doing (brainstorming a new ad, meeting with the creative team or going on a date) and fill in your name to let your connections know that you’ll be tied up on Sunday evenings. Genius.

Furthermore, the Mad Men voice is consistent wherever you hear it. Watch the show, scroll through its tweets or check out pictures on its Facebook page. AMC remembers that the brand is set in the 60s and acts accordingly, even down to the words it chooses. Want to rub elbows with Don and Peggy? Don’t sign up for the show’s newsletter; join the Mad Men Social Club. Looking to enjoy the next episode with friends? Check out the Cocktail Guide. Still not enough? Get the Mad Men Birchbox, male or female version.

AMC has stayed true to the brand it created while taking advantage of more modern marketing options, like social media, brand partnerships and email marketing. That’s why it’s so important to understand your brand’s voice, so you can present a consistent presence across platforms, marketing vehicles and generations.

Now make yourself a martini, put your feet up and enjoy storytelling at its finest.

Tell Your Story

What brand is your favorite storyteller?

Would you work at Sterling, Cooper & Pryce?

Who’s your favorite Mad Men character?

Editor’s Note: Different bat time, same bat channel. The CCC blog will now publish on Mondays and Thursdays. Don’t want to miss a post? Click on the subscribe button to the right of this post’s title. Thanks for reading!

A Mad Woman at heart,
Jaime

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Brands: Is Looking Stupid Ever A Good Thing?

“There’s no such thing as bad publicity except your own obituary.”                                                                      -Brendan Behan, Irish writer

Even in the constant onslaught of social media, some things stop you mid-scroll.

Here’s the kicker (no wrong sport pun intended): Hostess did this on purpose.

“The ‘Touchdown’ line was intentional; it’s fun and aimed at young audiences who are in on the running joke – which, of course, is the goalllll.” -Ellen Copaken, senior director of marketing at Hostess Brands

Huh?

As a company who helps brands with social media, we love to secure increased exposure for clients, along with achieving their other objectives. Positive exposure, we should point out. We can’t ever imagine making a brand look stupid in order to gain engagement and attention. How does that help with the big picture?

“For a few hours, Hostess achieved the all-consuming goal of social media managers everywhere: cut through the noise. Even though it had to act like an idiot to do it.” -Mashable

Along the same lines, there was a mixed reaction to JCPenney’s #TweetingWithMittens Super Bowl stunt last year. If you missed it, the retailer sent out a series of tweets filled with mistakes and typos. Most Twitter users thought that the people manning the account were intoxicated, or the account had been hacked. It turned out the company was “tweeting with mittens” to promote its status as the official supplier of Team USA’s mittens.

The company planned this strategy because Super Bowl XLVIII was held outdoors in New Jersey, and freezing temperatures were expected. Unfortunately for JCP, temps were much higher for the game, so wearing mittens didn’t make sense. However, JCPenney’s engagement went through the roof (both positive and negative), and its week-over-week mitten sales doubled.

So, here’s our question –> Does the end always justify the means?

If your brand’s engagement soars (even negative mentions), is it worth it?

Would you use a stunt that may reflect poorly on your brand in order to gain publicity?

This is a hot topic; Mashable even wrote about it. We’d love to hear your take!

Cheers,
Jaime

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A Subtle Dash of Branding Can Make Your Customers Smile

It’s amazing how what you do shows up throughout your life, even when you least expect it.

Anthropologie understands it's brand!

A subtle, unexpected touch of branding can form an emotional connection.

For example… I was opening my mail yesterday after a long day spent catching up at home and in the office from traveling to a client’s conference last week. To my surprise, I received an early birthday gift from a longtime friend (who has wonderful taste, by the way).

As I opened the box, I was excited to find a beautiful bottle opener, a practical and eye-catching gift. I also noticed two other objects in the box which I pulled out. One was a full color card advertising the company’s gift registry. The stock was a nice weight, and the piece reminded me of an invitation or ‘Save the Date’ card, which probably wasn’t an accident. The other was a tone-on-tone embossed white envelope with an old-school tie clasp containing the shipping list/return form. I was impressed!

Anthropologie understands its audience.

Why? Anthropologie is a company that I’ve long thought to be on point, branding-wise. In its 22-year existence, the retailer has stood out from its competitors by focusing on the stories of its products, the communities it operates in and its partners. (It’s name is no accident; look up the definition of anthropology.) By offering a mix of signature products, outstanding service and community support, Anthropologie understands its audience and serves it well. The big-hearted retailer has no interest in being another mass-market discount superstore.

So it shouldn’t have surprised me when the company that seems to think everything through, captured the smallest detail. The shipping list and/or return form is often an afterthought, thrown in the box at the end, so it’s the first thing you see — and associate with the brand — when opening your package. Not here. It was neatly tucked into the subtly branded envelope, keeping it safe if needed, yet out of eyesight if not. Upon opening the envelope and discovering its contents, I received another surprise: two more beautiful pieces are on the way.

By thinking of every last detail, Anthropologie made me smile three times while opening a gift from a friend. With a subtly branded envelope and some ingenuity, this brand-conscious retailer lured a potential customer in without ever walking in a store or going on its website. Remember, a subtle dash of branding can make your customers (and prospective customers) smile.

How do you promote your business in subtle, unexpected ways?

What’s a small thing you’ve done (or can do) to make a customer smile?

A branding believer,
Jaime

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Love — and Marketing — is in the air!

Holiday marketing: you either love it or hate it. As a consumer, it’s nice to take advantage of a sale, but as a marketer, it can get downright embarrassing. How many more car commercials about President’s Day sales that have no tie-in to the brand can we watch?

Love -- and coffee -- is in the air at Starbucks!

Love — and coffee — is in the air at Starbucks!

Some brands get holiday promotions right, and it may not be ones with a readily available tie-in at first glance. For example, Starbucks has decided to hold the world’s largest date on February 13th. The worldwide coffee giant is serving a special pairings menu at participating cafes for you and your beloved. Don’t have a beloved? No worries, the company has partnered with Match.com, so you can find that special someone. As a place where people come to meet, this partnership is genius, although I never would have told you that before. Kudos to Starbucks for understanding its brand and consistently finding new ways to grow.

Durex Valentine's Day ad

Durex delivers a tongue-in-cheek message to its competitors.

A couple of years ago, I stumbled across the above ad from Durex around Father’s Day. The world’s number one condom brand has a history of bold, tongue-in-cheek advertising. Durex takes its products seriously. Itself? Not so much. Considering what its product is intended to do, the company may not ever come up with a better ad.

Chime in with Love (or Hate)

What brand’s holiday-related marketing do you love?

Do you find yourself looking at marketing as a consumer vs. marketer/business professional?

Any fun Valentine’s Day plans?

Share the marketing love,
Jaime

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5 Things You Didn’t Know About Facebook

Facebook is the biggest, baddest social platform on the planet. We’ve all heard the statistics: if Facebook were a country, it would have the third-highest population in the world, behind China and India. An average of 864 million people log in to the site daily. But what about the things you don’t know?

DYK? Facebook is the world's largest photo archive.

You may be surprised to discover the following:

Privacy Basics – For a company who’s been blasted for its privacy issues (deservedly so), Facebook has taken serious steps in the right direction. Privacy Basics makes it easy to know what others can see about you and how others can interact with you. Click on the padlock on the toolbar at the top of the Facebook site to run a quick Privacy Checkup or adjust settings.

Facebook's Privacy Checkup

Related reading: Online Marketing & Your Privacy: Can They Coexist?


Advertising Controls
 – Yes, the social behemoth has advertising, which you may love as a marketer or business professional and hate as a user. You can’t get rid of the ads, but you do have a say in what ads you see — which is good for advertisers and consumers. As a business advertising on Facebook, don’t you want those who are actually interested in your products and services seeing your ads? Learn more about how ads work on Facebook, including what control you have over the ads you see, here.

Long Term Outlook – While the social giant is constantly tweaking its features, several of Facebook’s moves in 2014 appear to be geared toward improving its offerings down the road. Virtual reality and drones for Internet access may not show up this year, but they do carry major implications for life and business in the (not-so-distant?) future. Who knows? We may train, work and play via virtual reality by Facebook in a decade or so.

Emoticons for Facebook

Emoticons – Considering that the word of the year in 2014 wasn’t even a word, we all need to understand the power of emoticons, even — gasp! — for business. Did you know you can use emoticons on Facebook via a laptop or desktop? Oh, and they’re free. 😉

File-Sharing Platform – Collaborating with long distance co-workers on a project? Share files privately via Facebook Messenger. Once you have a chat window open, just click on the Settings icon at the top (the gear), and choose Add Files from the drop-down menu. Quick and easy!

What’s your favorite little-known Facebook feature?

Which of the five items mentioned excite you the most?

If you haven’t connected with CCC on Facebook, join us! We love to share tidbits about marketing (including social media and writing), while having fun and holding giveaways too.

Your favorite Facebook page administrator,
Jaime

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Link Building to Success: Optimize Your Website

This is the third post in a 4-part series highlighting steps you can take to improve your website’s search engine optimization (SEO). This guide was written by Ramya Raju, an experienced freelance web design writer from India. If you missed part one or two, we’d recommend reviewing them first.

While reading the first two parts of this series, you were probably wondering when I’d get to link building.

chain links

Link building is without a doubt one of the most discussed topics in SEO today. The idea is that your website is linked to by other websites and blogs, which helps in building higher rankings for your website for specific keywords. By using keyword anchor text, your site will get ranked for that particular keyword. For example, Adobe Reader is ranked number one for ‘click here’ anchor text because most download links for the reader shared on different websites are labeled with these keywords.

There are a few ways in which link building can be performed.

  • Organic Linking – the best way to gain rankings is through organic links. Such links are generated without you putting in any effort, and if they come from sites with higher rankings, like media websites and well recognized ones, then there is nothing better for your website’s SEO.
  • White Hat – quality link building efforts that follow search engines’ policies and still focus on your human audience. For example, only link to quality content when it fits within the context of your post. Don’t spam your audience (or someone else’s) with unnecessary, broken or unhelpful links that don’t contribute to the discussion.
  • Black Hat – the wrong way of link building that involves spamming and low quality back links, which should be completely avoided. It can lead to penalization by search engines and actually damage your SEO efforts.

Getting other websites and blogs to organically link to you is tough. It takes time and effort for your site to become popular enough to draw the required attention. That’s the reason why link building is an art and building quality links has to be planned well. The following methods will help you receive quality, organic links from outside sites:

  • Submit blog posts as a guest writer on the most notable blogs pertaining to your industry. These blogs will allow you to link back to your site in the author box.
  • Partner with related businesses that have their own websites and try to get a link back from their pages for partners, vendors, suppliers, etc.
  • To generate better incoming traffic to your website, create local search and social media profiles. The direct effect of these profiles on your search engine rankings is debatable but they will help drive more traffic to your website (which in turn will boost your SEO efforts).
  • Buy advertising space and/or submit your website links to dedicated industry directories and online trade journals. Don’t submit links or purchase ad space on low quality websites that are unrelated to your website (even if it’s free to do so).
  • Publish content which is so rich that people share it on their sites and blogs, providing you with useful back links. Infographics are an example of content that is typically shared at a high rate.

Photo: “Chain Links” by Eric Martin / CC BY 2.0

We hope you’ve enjoyed the first three parts of this 4-part series on search engine optimization. Check back next Thursday for part 4, Using Google+ to Boost Your Search Engine Rankings. As a reminder, posts are published on the CCC  blog every Tuesday and Thursday. Thanks for stopping by!

Ramya RajuRamya Raju is a freelance web design writer with 8 years of extensive blogging experience on a variety of online publishing and social media platforms. She generally writes high quality articles on travel, photography, SEO, web design, English courses and other general topics as requested. Ramya, an extrovert with a passion for photography and anthropology, enjoys travelling to different countries to discover new cultures and experience life with the locals. You can reach her at ramyaraju896@gmail.com or visit her online at http://www.colorcharacter.com/uk/.

#Hashtags: Big Business or Bust?

Hashtags

Hashtags — love them or hate them? Are they good or bad for business? Photo courtesy of Michael Coghlan via Creative Commons License

Let’s take a closer look at the world of hashtags…

On the positive side, hashtags open up your social media updates to a whole new world: non-subscribers, non-fans and non-followers. Searching hashtags brings potential fans, followers, subscribers — and customers — to your doorstep. Whenever I use hashtags, I always receive more traffic from those outside of my network. I’ve also come across brands — both personal and corporate — on Instagram and Twitter that I probably never would have found otherwise.

Hashtags are also a wonderful way to have a conversation online. Stay up to date with webinars, events, ad campaigns, sporting events, etc. by searching for the hashtag and participating in the conversation. As a marketer (or event professional), designating hashtags for your campaigns and events is a great way to invite attendees to join the conversation, build momentum pre- and post-event, involve those unable to attend and integrate your online and offline marketing efforts.

#Olympics hashtag search

The #Olympics hashtag: insight and insanity

For example, Twitter noted that the #SuperBowl hashtag was used 3 million times over an approximate 5-hour time period. As a marketing professional, you’re probably excited to jump in! But slow down — and do the math. That breaks down to an average of 167 tweets per second. And remember, anyone can use a hashtag — not only brands, companies or excited fans talking positively about your product or service. Someone complaining about a sideline reporter’s outfit or a celebrity that’s spotted in the crowd will show up in that hashtag search as well. As Oreo showed us, hashtags don’t make the tweet.

Power outage? No problem says Oreo.

Oreo stole the show on Super Bowl Sunday. No hashtag needed.

Another negative aspect is what I like to call ‘overhashtagging.’ I’m pretty sure that’s not a word, but it is in my dictionary. #Have #you #ever #read #a #tweet #like #this? #Probably #not #because #its #so #annoying. I’ve spoken to Twitter users regarding hashtag use and come across research that noted readership (and engagement) drops after 2 – 3 hashtags. Of course, it’s not just on Twitter; we’ve all seen photos maxing out the 30 hashtag limit on Instagram. As my mom always says, just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. #justsaying

In summary, hashtags have good and bad qualities like most things in life. They can be used correctly or abused as some of the pros and cons below show.

Pros

  • gain new followers, fans, subscribers and possibly customers
  • have a conversation online
  • bring event attendees into the conversation, including pre- and post-event
  • integrate online and offline marketing efforts
  • help a campaign go viral

Cons

  • new followers may be temporary or fake
  • aesthetically unpleasing
  • overuse is distracting / hard to read
  • overuse lowers readership / engagement
  • get lost in the sea of popular hashtags

I came across an insightful comment by Daniel Victor, social media staff editor at The New York Times, which sums up my opinion of hashtags well.

“Here’s where I’ll join the rest in unquantifiable hoodoo: I believe hashtags are aesthetically damaging. I believe a tweet free of hashtags is more pleasing to the eye, more easily consumed, and thus more likely to be retweeted (which is a proven way of growing your audience). I believe for every person who stumbles upon your tweet via hashtag, you’re likely turning off many more who are put off by hashtag overuse. We need not banish the hashtag, but let’s start putting more thought into when we’re using it.”

Your Thoughts

What do you think? Are you a hashtag user or recovering abuser? Refuse to use them?

Have hashtags been beneficial to your business? Or hurt your online brand?

Please chime in with your thoughts on the wonderful, wacky world of hashtags! Feel free to link to articles, blog posts, studies, etc. (including your own) on the subject in the comments as well.

Additional Reading

#EnjoytheWeekend!

Jaime

p.s. Sunday, June 30th, is Social Media Day 2013! Join CCC as we celebrate (virtually) the power of social media in our lives. View the event invite for details and social media resources.

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Super Bowl XLVII: Not A Complete Blackout

I planned on writing about marketing lessons to be had from some of the better Super Bowl commercials until I read 5 Marketing Lessons From the Super Bowl’s Most Popular Commercials from the fine folks at Entrepreneur this morning via Pulse. So that’s been done.

Speaking of the Super Bowl commercials, I felt like they grew more interesting along with the game in the second half, and more specifically, after the blackout. Or I should say during the blackout.

How about Oreo? It almost seemed as if the company knew the blackout was coming. (Hmm, cue up the conspiracy theorists.) More likely, this fun brand was just prepared for the big game instead of sitting back and watching its ad run. Talk about great social media management. And better yet, it’s impromptu ad reminding us all that “You Can Still Dunk In The Dark.” actually made me crave an Oreo. Go figure, an ad that sells!

Oreo Super Bowl blackout ad

As of the writing of this post, Oreo’s clever tweet had earned nearly 16,000 retweets and almost 6,000 favorites on Twitter alone not too mention its success on other social media platforms. There’s something to say about being ready to take advantage of an opportunity!

Of course, Budweiser weighed in with another winner. I almost expect this giant in the beer industry to top USA Today’s Ad Meter and satisfy fans annually. The company used its famous Clydesdales for instant brand recognition and included a direct call to action, which many ads did not. People watching the commercial were asked to help name the baby Clydesdale pictured in it by suggesting names with the hashtag #clydesdales on Twitter.

Budweiser just launched its first-ever Twitter account on January 27th (after Twitter introduced age verification), so the commercial was a great way to attract attention to its new handle. As of February 5th, the new account already has nearly 10,500 followers despite being restricted to fans at least 21 years old.

Last, but certainly not least, let’s not forget about JELL-O! The legendary snack company came on right after the dramatic ending to congratulate San Francisco on being #2. How many companies have thought of that strategy?! JELL-O promised fans in San Fran free product today (Feb 5th), because winners shouldn’t have all the fun.

In addition to free pudding, distraught 49ers fans can install the Baltimore Blocker Google Chrome extension, which replaces the words Baltimore and Ravens anywhere they appear on the Internet with blah blah blah and swaps out pictures of celebrating Ravens fans with cute animals. This strategy has people talking on Twitter, Facebook and watching the pudding drop on the company’s website. “Who’s the big winner now, Baltimore?”

Well, that’s my wrap on Super Bowl XLVII, which despite a dramatic second half and some intriguing commercials, will be remembered for a blackout. While I had no loyalties on either side, I am happy for Dean Pees, current Baltimore defensive coordinator and former Kent State head football coach. Way to represent, Coach Pees!

What’s your take? Did you enjoy the game? The commercials? Or did you switch over and watch Downtown Abbey? (I DVR’d it.)

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below or hit me up on social media. I”m always up for a discussion, especially on football or commercials.

Waiting for pitchers and catchers to report-
Jaime

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The Harbowl: A Marketer’s Dream (Oh, And Those $3.7 Million Ads!)

As marketers, we’re always looking for the story beyond the story. The one that will draw you in, grab your emotions and make you care. Yes, even for mammoth events like the Super Bowl.

In 2013, the game is full of story lines, but the one grabbing everyone’s attention is the sibling rivalry. For the first time, two brothers, John and Jim Harbaugh, will lead their teams in the biggest game of the year. Imagine what their parents, Jack and Jackie, are thinking.

Harbowl

Of course, there are other story lines as well. Ray Lewis’ final game in a remarkable career. The overnight sensation Colin Kaepernick has become. With the game on the line, how confident is anyone in David Akers? Including David Akers?

While the game actually looks exciting this year (not always the case), people around the world will tune in for the ads. As I used to ask my training session attendees, what’s the one day of the year that people watch advertising? Yep, the Super Bowl. In fact, an estimated 44% of women and 31% of men admitted to tuning into the game ‘primarily for the commercials,’ according to a 2012 survey by CouponCabin.com.

And at $3.7 million per 30-second spot (according to the Ad Age Data Center), this year’s advertisers will once again be shelling out. Obviously these companies and brands feel like the ROI (return on investment) they generate makes the high price tag worthwhile. It’s hard to believe that when you actually watch some of the spots though.

It has been interesting to see the increase in social media marketing leading up to, during and after the game. Pepsi made quite a splash in 2010 by only utilizing social media for the big game. I’m not saying that’s the right choice for everyone, but it definitely raised some eyebrows around the industry and helped fuel the discussion about social media marketing as a legitimate option, even for larger companies.

Speaking of Super Bowl advertising, what’s your favorite? Immediately, two ads/advertisers come to mind for me. The first is Budweiser, who does a fantastic job every year delivering attention-grabbing ads that tie into their brand. (No, I’m not a customer; I’m more of a liquor fan.) It’s not just that people are still talking about their ads the days following the big game, but they’re also talking about Budweiser. (That’s not always the case with popular commercials.)

One of my favorite Budweiser spots (of many) is Respect, aired during the ’02 game. It was Budweiser’s tribute to New York City after the terrorist attacks the previous fall.

My other favorite is the iconic Mean Joe Greene commercial for Coca-Cola which aired during the 1980 game. Yes, I’m a Steelers fan, but the spot still resonates with viewers today and instantly brings Coca-Cola to mind. (In a tribute to the ad’s popularity and effectiveness, Downy has actually remade the spot for this year’s game.)

Now I’m passing the ball to you. What’s your favorite Super Bowl commercial or advertiser?

Oh, and one more question… John or Jim?

Advertising enthusiast & football fanatic,
Jaime

Image credit: marsmet481 on Flickr

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